Amid so much high drama on the Lokpal Bill and both parties bashing each other on live TV 24/7, the government seems to be always on the offensive, bombarding civil society with all possible kinds of allegations, and the civil society has been busy mostly clarifying itself. But the attack has been so rapid and from so many directions that some of the allegations went unanswered/unnoticed (it’s easy to throw 100 balls in a minute, but not so easy to catch all 100 in the same time). An unanswered lie, repeated multiple times, starts looking like truth.
So I am trying here to respond to some of such allegations. While doing so, I will put my leaning towards civil society behind, and use only argumentative logic and verifiable facts (lawyers seem to be in-charge of our government, so I am using a language they understand):
Only parliament can make the laws, no one else. Civil society is adamant on getting only their version passed.
Government has been very good at this one. So good that even some of Anna’s supporters started doubting themselves. Kapil Sibal and Chidambaram have been continuously saying that laws are made in parliament and not on streets. Manmohan Singh has been parroting that it is the right of the parliament to create a law and no one can pressurize the parliament to pass a law of one’s liking.
What they have suppressed is that civil society never demanded from government that only their version should be passed in parliament (government alone cannot do that anyway). All they are demanding is that their version should be presented in parliament for consideration. If all parties discuss both versions and still go for government’s draft, that’s okay. At least people will know who was for it and who was against, and whom to vote in the next elections.
Anna and his team has no right to force their bill on the parliament.
They had no official right, until April. But when government made them members of the joint drafting committee, government itself gave them the right and acknowledged it. Now if the joint committee is divided equally on some topics and no group has majority, both the views should go to the parliament for consideration. If all members of joint committee have equal power (and it was not mentioned otherwise), what gives the 5 government members the right to force their version on parliament and completely ignore the version of the other 5 members?
We do not have a magic wand to end all corruption.
Nor do we have a magic wand to end all poverty. Does that stop the government from implementing NREGA? Despite not having a magic wand, Congress, in its own words, has been trying to “remove poverty (Gareebi Hataao)” for many decades (and winning elections in the name of it). So why should we wait till we get a magic wand to end all corruption? Why not start with a strong Lokpal and correct course based on its performance? Doesn’t this remind us of the Sheik-Chilli argument: “until I learn swimming, I will not go in water”?
Civil society is insulting parliament by burning copies of the draft presented to the parliament.
Only a few months back, when UP government made amendments in the Local Self Government Act, Congress protested by burning copies of the law (source: Congress website). This is still a draft, that was a duly passed law. Was that not a greater insult to the assembly? If Congress can justify burning copies of a law citing how bad a law Congress thinks it is, the same justification goes for civil society as well.
Keeping Prime Minister under Lokpal’s purview will make his post unstable due to frivolous complaints.
A few other parties are saying this too. What they don’t (want to) understand is that frivolous complaints against Prime Minister can be made even today. CBI will investigate them (as it is doing so in the 2G scam). The only problem is that Prime Minister is the boss of CBI, which ensures that CBI will never indict the PM. The civil society demand is not to make PM “investigatable” (he already is), but only to make Lokpal the new boss of CBI and keep other things as they are. So his post would be as stable (or unstable) as it is now.
Anna himself is corrupt.
This is not even worth replying. For a moment, let us assume that Anna Hazare is the most corrupt person in India. Does that make his arguments any less valid? What matters here is the idea, not the ideator.
If the government allows such pressure tactics, we are moving towards mobocracy.
If the government does not hear and respond to the voice of its people, we are moving towards autocracy, which is equally dangerous.
Civil society’s sources of funding are unknown.
… no, no, wait, it is well known, RSS is funding it.
…no, no, wait, actually USA is funding it.
Guys, please make up your mind on one allegation so that I can respond to it. I think I should wait here until the next one comes: “Aliens from the neighboring galaxy are funding it”. Meanwhile, feel free to check this and this, IAC’s detailed statements of all donations received and expenses incurred.
Now I am wondering, why couldn’t I find such links on Congress party’s website?